Angular is a tool that goes head-to-head with React when it comes to frontend development. Effective, reliable, and versatile, Angular is used for various applications such as SPAs, real-time data apps, video streaming, and much more. And despite some people saying that Angular is losing its popularity, it still remains relevant and in high demand - learn why in the article below.
Angular: a brief history and the current state
Angular (or Angular 2+, Angular v2) is a completely rewritten version of the famous AngularJS framework. AngularJS was created in 2010 by Google. Its biggest advantage was that it allowed turning HTML-based documents into dynamic content. There were other advantages that AngularJS had - but unfortunately, they were not enough. In 2016, Google released Angular - a complete rewrite of the existing framework. Since Angular was very different from AngularJS, Google decided to make it a separate framework rather than an update.
The latest Angular version, Angular 11, was introduced in 2020. However, we should also pay attention to version 8 (launched in 2019) since it had two major new features: Ivy renderer and a build interface named Bazel. As for Angular 11, there were no major changes except for improvements in its current functionality.
Today Angular remains a popular and widely used frontend development tool. If we look at statistics, we can see that the number of downloads and search queries for Angular has decreased in recent years - but the framework itself has improved significantly. This is why so many global brands still use Angular for their products. The list of its users includes PayPal, Forbes, Deutsche Bank, Upwork, and others.
Angular: technology type
Angular is an open-source, TypeScript-based MVVM (Model View ViewModel) framework. Angular falls under the MEAN stack category, which stands for:
M: MongoDB (database);
E: Express (backend);
A: Angular (frontend);
These are the technologies that Angular is most commonly used with. Of course, it can be used with other technologies too but the stack mentioned above is well-tried and reliable.
Angular is component-based, unlike AngularJS that was built around the MVC architecture. These building blocks (components) are called NgModules and an app created with Angular is defined by a set of these NgModules. So in an Angular app, each UI element of the screen is an independent component. This simplifies app management and allows reusability, better maintainability, and better readability.
The key features of Angular are:
Two-way data binding: reduces development time;
Dependency injection: separates components from their dependencies and hence makes components more reusable and easier to manage;
Directives: allows assigning special behaviors to DOM to create dynamic and rich content.
Code consistency: due to Angular CLI and style guide.
RxJS is a library for reactive programming and is commonly used with Angular. Even though it has a steep learning curve, once you master it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with its capabilities.
The core concept of this library is Observables. An Observable describes the data streams, the ways they are combined, and how the application reacts to different variables. The use of RxJS makes it much easier to write asynchronous code and to manage complex components of an application.
The use of Angular: most common cases
Angular is used for a variety of applications and is especially suitable for cross-platform, PWA, and hybrid apps. Learn about its use cases below.
Angular brings a lot of benefits to complex applications such as e-commerce ones. First, it can significantly reduce the SSR time. Note though that Angular apps are usually CSR but SSR is possible with the Angular Universal package.
Second, Angular allows using HTML parsing for your search engine purposes and a search engine is a vital feature of any e-commerce site. As well, Angular enables developers to create dynamic content that can be updated in real-time which is what we expect from any e-commerce store.
When talking about developing enterprise applications, Angular usually tops its competition. Angular comes with a variety of features that help create a robust and complex enterprise app. And since Angular templates are written in a different file and a different format, they are quite easy to understand and manage.
Also, don’t forget that TypeScript allows adding static type to the code. This makes the code more maintainable and helps identify bugs faster and easier.
Angular is highly suitable for building different types of mobile applications, including hybrid, cross-platform, and PWAs. With a rich set of built-in features (i.e. UI routing or HTML interfaces), it provides developers with great flexibility in developing apps of different sizes and different levels of complexity.
As well, Angular provides a high level of scalability which is another advantage when it comes to mobile app development. And don’t forget about available customization options that grant developers additional freedom and room for creativity.
Angular Pros and Cons
Angular is a great tool when it comes to working on the front-end part of an application. But in order to use Angualr to its maximum potential, it’s important to understand its pros and cons.
Angular is a web application framework supported by Google. Because of that, Angular is known as a trustworthy and well-maintained platform that regularly releases new “revisions” of the framework with improvements, additions, fixes, and updates. It is open-sourced and has great community support.
Angular comes prepackaged with a lot of things that you might need during the application development process. It gives developers a full set of tools to build reactive UI and a big ecosystem of third-party components. It helps with controlling UI, routing, state management, sending HTTP requests, testing, offline support, server-side rendering, and others. Actually, it enables developers to directly focus on the problems rather than analyze time and choose libraries.
On the other hand, because of the complexity of the Angular framework, the learning curve is pretty steep. It has a very high entry threshold and requires a lot of effort from developers to get up and running. But thanks to CLI, knowing just a few commands the developers can easily start writing code on it without studying the documentation. For sure in this case, there is a high chance that they can write very suboptimal code.
Angular is a great framework that provides advanced techniques and settings to optimize app performance. Choosing Angular might be a good solution for middle-sized and large enterprise projects.
Alex, Frontend Engineer
Throughout the years, Angular has seen numerous improvements that helped him remain relevant and in high demand. Though Angular has its flaws, it remains one of the most efficient tools out there and we can 100% recommend it for certain projects.
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